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Earth Exoplanet Lava Planet K2-141b
Photo credit: Julie Roussy, McGill Graphic Design and Getty Images
Scientists have discovered K2-141b, an exoplanet that is half the size of Earth but orbits so close to its star that two-thirds of the surface is permanently sunlit. This means that almost half of the planet is molten magma, thus the atmosphere created by vaporized rocks spreads around the planet, forming clouds and rains or snows down onto the molten surface below. When that is paired with wind speeds above 3,100 miles per hour, or faster than the speed of sound on Earth, things get a bit strange. Read more for a video and additional information.

Liquid Window
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) scientists have developed a liquid window panel that can not only block the sun to regulate solar transmission, but also trap thermal heat that can be released later, thus reducing energy consumption in buildings. This ‘smart window’ was created by placing hydrogel-based liquid within glass panels and the team discovered that this reduced up to 45% of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning energy consumption in buildings in simulations, compared to traditional glass windows. Read more for a video and additional information.

Fast Radio Burst Milky Way Galaxy
Researchers discovered a supermagnetized stellar remnant known as a magnetar that blasted out a simultaneous mix of X-ray and radio signals never observed before on April 28. This included the first fast radio burst (FRB) ever detected from within the Milky Way galaxy, thus showing that magnetars can produce these mysterious radio blasts previously only seen in other galaxies. For those who have not heard of magnetars, they are basically a type of isolated neutron star remains that is many times larger than our Sun. Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA Voyager 2 Deep Space Network Dish
NASA has managed to make contact again with the Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since mid-March. The spacecraft has been flying solo while the 230-foot-wide deep space radio antenna used to communicate with it has been offline for repairs and upgrades. On October 29th, NASA mission operators sent a series of commands and Voyager 2 returned a signal confirming it had received the “call” and executed them without issue. Read more for two Voyager 2 videos and additional information.

FIU Wall of Wind Hurricane
Photo credit: Florida International University
Florida International University wanted to study advance wind engineering / structural research that could possibly save lives, homes, and infrastructure threatened by extreme winds. What better way to do this than build a “Wall of Wind,” literally? The Wall of Wind (WOW) Experimental Facility (EF), comprised of 12 fans, can replicate Category 5 (Hurricane Andrew strength) winds. It is now used to research how structures, like homes and critical infrastructure systems, hold up in extreme weather. Read more for two videos and additional information.

NASA 20-Years International Space Station
NASA is celebrating 20-years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station, which started out as a small orbiting complex of just three modules, not the sprawling research complex that is now. Today, it’s about as large as a five-bedroom home, complete with a gym, two bathrooms and a 360-degree bay window looking at Earth below. The main sections of the space station were delivered on 42 assembly flights – 37 on the U.S. space shuttles and five on Russian Proton/Soyuz rockets – with many constructed independent of one another around the globe and assembled for the first time in space. Read more for two videos and additional information.

Star Milky Way Rogue Planet Exoplanet
Photo credit: Jan Skowron/Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw
A team of scientists, led by Polish astronomers, have discovered the smallest “rogue planet” (OGLE-2016-BLG-1928) yet, traveling through the Milky Way galaxy unattached to a star. This exoplanet is speculated to have a mass between that of the Earth and Mars. Free-floating planets emit almost no radiation and cannot be discovered using traditional methods of astrophysical detection, but rather gravitational microlensing, which is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, where a massive object (lens) may bend the light of a bright background object (source). Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA Jack-o'-Lantern Sun Nebula Halloween
There are many bizarre things in the universe, and one of them is this Jack-o’-lantern nebula. This cosmic hollowed-out pumpkin is caused by powerful outflows of radiation and particles from a massive star — known as an O-type star and approximately 15-20 times heavier than the Sun — has swept the surrounding dust / gas outward, thus creating deep gouges in the cloud. The colors you see are from infrared light captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Read more for a video and additional information.

Disney Realistic Interactive Robot Gaze
Anyone who has visited a Disney theme park has definitely come across at least one of their animatronics, but get up close, and you’ll notice that something about them seems quite off. These new robots with a lifelike gaze may change that, while also giving you nightmares in their unskinned state. The team focused on the character animation where the fidelity and believability of motion is paramount, thus creating an interaction which demonstrates the illusion of life. Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA SOFIA Lunar Water Surface
NASA announced today that their Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) discovered water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This means that water may actually be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places. That’s right, water molecules (H2O) were found in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Read more for a video and additional information.